Following in the steps of precedent setting legislation mandating women on boards two years ago, on September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 979 into law mandating diversity on certain public company boards of directors. The new law requires publicly held corporations headquartered in California to include at least one person from an underrepresented community by the end of next year, with additional appointments required in future years.

New Obligations

The new legislation is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is the second time California seeks to mandate diversification of public company boards through legislation. (Read more about the 2018 legislation requiring companies to put female directors on their boards here.) The first piece of legislation aimed at increasing gender diversity; AB 979 seeks to increase diversity from “underrepresented communities.”


Continue Reading California Mandates More Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms

The federal guidance on whether to classify a worker as an employee or an independent contractor continues to shift, as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new proposed rule favorable for companies. If finalized, the rule may provide businesses with greater latitude to engage independent contractors.

Continue Reading New DOL Proposed Rule Makes It Easier For Companies to Engage Independent Contractors

Big thanks to Kim Sartin in our London office for her contributions to this post.

As many businesses start to reopen, and travel restrictions are lifted in some locations, employers are gearing up for the inevitable question — when can employees travel? At the moment, we’re certainly seeing companies re-starting business travel that is deemed

On September 4, 2020, the California Legislature passed Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill relating to annual reporting of pay data (Senate Bill 973). If Governor Newsom signs the bill, as expected, SB 973 would require private employers with 100 or more employees to report pay data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing

As predicted, on Friday, California Governor Newsom signed AB 2257 into law. The most significant changes are expanding the exemptions to AB 5’s coverage, that is, widening the range of occupations that will be held to an earlier standard for determining employment status. The new law takes effect immediately. For our coverage of AB 2257,

A potential amendment to California’s AB 5 law is sitting on Governor Newsom’s desk. If enacted, the amendment will allow certain professions to be classified as independent contractors rather than employees, notwithstanding AB 5’s presumption of employment status. On August 31, the California legislature sent AB 2257 to Governor Newsom for his review and signature. Supporters of the bill expect Newsom to sign it into law next month, especially given AB 5’s perceived negative impact on the “gig” economy during the pandemic. If signed by the governor, the law will take effect immediately.

By way of brief reminder, AB 5 established a 3-part test, known as the “ABC” test, that is used to determine if workers are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission. Under the ABC test, a person providing labor or services for remuneration is considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. This broad test places most workers in the employee classification. AB 5, however, enumerated a few limited exemptions for specified occupations and business relationships from the application of the ABC test, providing that the exempt relationships are governed by the pre-AB 5 multi-factor test set out in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations. (For more detail on AB 5, click here.)

AB 2257 will modify some of the current exceptions to AB 5, and create new exceptions to AB 5’s presumption that workers are employees. A close read of the bill’s text is necessary given the proposed amendments’ nuances and sometimes conflicting detail.  We outline below some of the major changes contemplated by AB 2257, but if your business potentially falls into one of the enumerated exceptions, we strongly recommend consulting with employment counsel given the complexities involved.

New Exceptions

If enacted into law, AB 2257 will allow the following professionals to be classified as independent contractors in California if they satisfy the Borello standard.


Continue Reading Big Changes Coming To California’s Landmark Independent Contractor Law? Sort of.

Welcome to Baker McKenzie’s new Labor & Employment video chat series for US employers, The Employer Rapport. Our lawyers will provide quick, practical tips on today’s most pressing issues for US employers navigating the new normal. The videos complement our blog, The Employer Report, which provides written legal updates and practical insights about

The latest wrinkle for employers managing employees in the time of COVID-19 relates to employee travel. Many employers are coming to us asking how to navigate the patchwork of US state and local quarantine restrictions and / or recommendations for persons who travel to hotspots and then have to quarantine when they return home.

Questions abound, including whether employers can just test employees for COVID-19 to avoid a 14-day quarantine period, and whether employers have to pay employees to follow a quarantine order when their employees voluntarily travel to a hotspot location. We provide background and answer those questions below.


Continue Reading Navigating Employee Travel in a Maze of State and Local Quarantine Orders and Travel Advisories

America’s political divisions seem to be deepening. And, what’s troubling for employers is that our polarized political climate appears to be affecting employee productivity significantly, according to research by Gartner. According to a nationwide survey in February, 47% of employees reported that debate surrounding the 2020 elections is impacting their ability to get work done.

With a surge in COVID-19 cases in parts of the US (and some states taking or considering taking a step backwards into a prior reopening phase), employers are trying to figure out the best ways to keep the virus from spreading in their reopened worksites. We have answered some frequently asked questions below to help employers implement or modify their screening protocol to make it the best fit for their physical workspace, their budget, and their workforce.

1.  Can I check my employees’ temperatures before they enter the  workplace? If my employees have a fever, can I send them home (or tell them not to come to work)?

Yes, employers can check their employees’ temperatures before they enter the workplace. In fact, some states and localities require employers to do daily or weekly checks, so check your local requirements.

A temperature check is a medical examination under the ADA, and in ordinary times, employers generally cannot require employees to submit to a temperature check. However, given COVID-19’s rise to the level of pandemic, and the CDC and state and local health authorities’ acknowledgment of the community spread of COVID-19 and issuance of precautions, EEOC guidance allows employers to check employees’ temperatures before they enter the workplace. Temperature checks are only permitted while the virus is severe, so as the level of community spread diminishes in your locality make sure that temperature checks are still permitted before you administer them.

In addition, employers can send employees home (or tell them not to come to work) if they have a fever or any of the other symptoms of COVID-19. See EEOC guidance and CDC guidance, “Separate Sick Employees.” The CDC defines a fever as 100.4 F or 38 C or above. States may have different guidance regarding what qualifies as a “fever,” with some states defining a “fever” as a flat 100 F, and employers can set lower temperature thresholds if they prefer.


Continue Reading Employee Testing for COVID-19: What Works Now for Your Worksite?